The Bible’s Eighth Commandment

The Bible’s Eighth Commandment states, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19). What are the intents of this command? What is the ultimate assertion of greediness, a lustful way of life, one that emphasizes acquiring material and intangible things with no regard for the rights and feelings of others? What are forms of stealing that people commit without realizing what they are doing? Can we also steal from our Father in heaven Yahweh? Like other sins identified by the Ten Commandments, theft arises from the sinful condition of the heart. The consequences of willful and unrepented theft are very severe, according to the Bible. Today, we are going to share with you the answers to these things from the Holy Scripture. As always, we will let the Word of Yahweh (Bible) interpret itself to us and ask the help of His Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance in sharing these sacred things with you. May you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear for this true and faithful heavenly message.

Theft is a day-to-day reality throughout the world. Probably, each person reading these words has had something stolen from him/her at least once in that person’s lifetime. And most have probably stolen something at one time or another. A thief must go far beyond simply ceasing his/her larceny to please Yahweh. Theft comes in many forms and occurs at every level of the society. It occurs in many big corporations and in small communities—and everywhere in between. A thief is a thief, whether he/she is rich or poor, and all thieves, to a greater or lesser extent, disregard the rights and property of others. A person who steals from the neighbor does not love his/her neighbor. And, generally, a thief is not just a thief. A person’s lack of moral character usually gives rise to many other form of sins, such as adultery, bearing false witness, and slander. Yes, theft is the ultimate assertion of the greedy, lustful way of life, one that emphasizes acquiring material and intangible things with no regard for the rights and feelings of others! Yes, a thief has to change his/her heart and outlook in order to be forgiven of sin.

Directly taking another possessions is not the only way to steal. Con artists use sophisticated scams to swindle their victims. Deceptive advertisements do the same. Manufacturers who misleadingly advertise their products of substandard quality cheat their customers. Laborers who bill for more hours than they work or charge more than their services are worth are stealing from those who hire them. Employees who do not work although paid to do so are stealing from their employers. People who delight in consuming what others produce while refusing to carry their share of the labor and responsibility or their part in the production of goods and services engage in still another form of stealing. These people siphon away what others produce but make little or no contribution themselves. They take and give little in return. Then there are those who “borrow” but never return. Aren’t they stealing? They are all thieves! The Eighth Commandment presupposes the right to own property. This command also underscores the virtue of the work ethic, which is a part of the apostolic tradition (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9). The apostle Paul said, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Here, Paul is urging able-bodied believers to work for a living so as not to be a burden to others. Practice giving rather than getting!

Further, the Bible helps us recognize yet another form of stealing. From the time of Abraham forward (Genesis 14:20), the Bible shows examples of Elohim’s faithful servants formally acknowledged who ultimately owns everything—Yahweh. They faithfully gave Him a tithe or one tenth of their increase. Notice! In the Covenant Yahweh made with ancient Israel, a tenth of the people’s increase was set aside to finance the priests’ spiritual service to the nation. Needless to say, this biblical practice of tithing (means giving a tenth) never became popular to most people. It required faith that Yahweh would amply supply their needs if they were a giving people. About a century later a small group of Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the city and the temple. But their loyalty to Elohim soon began to wane, as it had before their captivity. Through the prophet Malachi, Yahweh reprimanded the priests in that tiny nation for neglecting the teaching of His laws (Malachi 2:7-9). Meanwhile, Almighty Yahweh reproved the people for keeping His tithe for themselves! He said, “Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, “In what way we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9). Surprised? Yes, people steal from Yahweh by not giving tithe!

A thief, because of his/her self-serving disposition, can never be truly content with life. The act of stealing may bring momentary excitement due to a rush of adrenalin, but the things he/she steals never satisfy that person’s deepest needs. The thief generally lives with a fear of getting caught, and he/she knows the penalty for stealing and be quite stiff. In ancient Israel, a thief caught with a stolen ox, donkey, or sheep had to repay two animals per stolen animal (Exodus 22:4). If, however, the thief killed or sold a stolen ox or sheep, the fine was five oxen per ox or four sheep per sheep (Exodus 22:1). How does all of this relate directly to the command not to steal? The apostle Paul gives us the connection. He said, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). Paul also said, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of Yahweh?” Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, or idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of Yahweh” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

In closing, sinning against the Bible’s Eighth Commandment arises from the sinful condition of the man’s heart. The Savior of mankind Yahshua Himself said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Yahshua condemned the misguided priorities of the Jewish religious leaders (scribes and Pharisees) of His day. Yahshua supported the Jews’ continued observance of the physical aspects of the law and their faithful tithing. But He criticized their failure to emphasize the spiritual virtues of justice, mercy, faith and love (Matthew 23:23). On another occasion Yahshua mentioned their tithing while bypassing “justice and the love of Elohim” (Luke 11:42). Yahshua told them they should have been doing both—practicing the law of tithing along with exercising justice, mercy, faith and love. Yahshua the Messiah thus affirmed the practice of tithing—of giving back to our Creator Yahweh a portion of what He gives us! Yes, we’re not to take for ourselves the tenth that belongs to Him! We hope that you’re enlightened to the importance of this Commandment. May Elohim continue to keep and bless the hearers, especially the doers of His Word. We pray these things to Yahweh through Yahshua the Messiah our Master and our King, Amen. Halleluyah, Shalom!


6 thoughts on “The Bible’s Eighth Commandment

  1. An interesting look into the eighth commandment. I agree there are more than one ways of ‘stealing’. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I will never understand why people steal, there is no better feeling than knowing you have worked hard to buy something and deserve it for that reason.

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